Tonight I finally got some time in the “Quiet Room”. The baby is asleep, the girls are doing their own thing, Leonard’s out with friends. I kept remembering things I needed like my glass of water, the computer cord, etc. I finally got in the room.
I put my water on the table, plugged the fan in, sat down on the recliner. No sooner had my back touched the chair than I heard Jill calling my name
“Kitty, look. I found more of my books.”
“That’s great. Are these library books or books you’re planning to read?”
“Ima read these when I’m done with the other two. But look, see?” She fanned them out for me to see. Yup, they’re books. Romeo and Juliet, To Kill a Mockingbird and Speak. An average High School reading list.
“That’s great, hon. I’m glad you found them. Now I’m going to have a little time in here, ok?”
“Ok Kitty. But you know that if the curtain is open even a little bit it’s o.k. to come in and talk to you, right?”
I didn’t know that. Good to know.
It’s been over a week since I’ve had time alone in our crowded little house. It’s a typical three bedroom row home, but downscaled to be around 1,000 square feet. When we decided to become foster parents, we envisioned some younger teens sharing the space in the back room, probably on a respite basis at first and then maybe working towards permanent placement. We imagined that we’d do respite for a while, and then take on the full time gig, and then work our way up to adoption.
That didn’t happen. There is some background at this page: youcaring.com/fosterfamilyinneed. It feels very strange trying to do a fundraising campaign for our family. We generally don’t ask for help, sometimes to a fault. But now that we have the girls to take care of, it’s clear that we need more help than we thought we would.
It really is different being a foster parent vs. being a biological parent, especially when you bring a kid into your family who’s essentially already a fully grown human. Jill is 17 and Grace is 15. They’ve lived in more homes than they can list, and each been to over 10 schools.
Schooling is what’s on my mind these days. The superintendent just announced that unless $50 million shows up by the end of the day tomorrow, they won’t be able to open Philadelphia schools on time. That’s crazy making. See, with our son we have the luxury to take some time in the decision making process. We can work on him with early literacy, make sure we’re reading to him, make sure he’s being talked to using big words all the time. We can take him to enriching museums and events, get him science kits if he’s interested in them or toy kitchens or whatever. We can encourage his brain to think and analyze. We can plan whether he’ll go to a charter school or a homeschool, or even a private school. We have that luxury.
With Jill and Grace we absolutely do not have that luxury. Every time a kid moves schools, they loose approximately 6 months of education. They are both functioning way below their age, and one of them is dragging around a woefully outdated IEP to boot. Neither one of them can handle adversity very well. The slightest bit of bad news can spark a days long thunderstorm of moodiness and anger. But now that the schools are slated to open late and understaffed, we have to make some decisions. Leonard will be taking two classes, and otherwise will be home with the baby. But he’s got his own schoolwork to manage, not to mention caring for the baby. Does he have time and tools to tutor and work with two kids who need extreme academic support? Probably not. I teach all day, and really would rather not come home to a second shift. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a place where they could go and be taught by people who are trained to do this, in rooms full of other kids who are also learning the same things? Oh, right.
I just saw this article: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324823804579014773649474290.html
So our broke as a joke city is going to divert the funding into the schools so they can open with a skeleton staff “on time”. I never thought of myself as the kind of person who would flee the city to the ‘burbs. But the Philadelphia schools have been under State control since 2001, since before these girls were going to school. And if I know PSD hasn’t been able to educate them thus far, how am I to trust that they can fix the mess they’ve made in the next few years? Nope. We gotta get to a better school district. One more thing to worry about.
The good news is that the grey hair is all coming in in one spot. If I’m lucky, I’ll get a nice Bride of Frankenstein look going on…